Sunday, April 13, 2008

Justice League: The New Frontier

I picked this up a couple of weeks ago. The animation looked great and I have heard from many people that the graphic novel this is based on, by Darwyn Cooke, is exceptional so I took a chance and bought it blind. I'm glad that I did too cause it was something special. The story takes the Justice League back to the 60's with speeches of JFK peppered throughout the movie to place it squarely in the real world. The film was written by Stan Berkowitz and directed by David Bullock.This is an origin story for both the Justice League and for Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz) who becomes the Green Lantern. The government has apparently had their fill of superheroes and has banned them from their work as champions of justice. The world is under threat by a super human monster determined to rid the planet of human life. The War (I believe Korea) is over and it appears that Superman (Kyle Maclachlan) and Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless) are on the outs as Wonder Woman has taken control of a group of refugee women in the jungle. The Martian Manhunter J'onn J'onzz (Miguel Ferrer) is brought to our world from Mars and is forced to live among us. The Flash, Barry Allen (Neil Patrick Harris) is a hero in his town of Central City but is unsure if he is capable of taking on the larger threat confronting mankind. Batman, Bruce Wayne (Jeremy Sisto) has refused to adhere to the government's new laws pertaining to heroes and has continued to work in Gotham against the local criminal element. I was a little critical of a new voice for Batman since we've been hearing Kevin Conroy's excellent vocal talent for so long. But I thought Sisto was great he brought a bitterness to Batman that hasn't been seen in a while. Which leaves us with the focus of the story, Hal Jordan, a cocky fighter pilot who has, after the war, been given the reputation of someone avoiding the fight as if he were afraid. Hal just wants to be a space ranger and get his chance to touch the stars. As a huge fan of the Green Lantern we get to see Hal's first encounter with Abin Sur and the passing of the ring to Hal. This story touches historical themes like the missile crisis, the red scare and blacklisting.The creature called the Centre is interesting but I would have preferred if the League were fighting against a more original villain. This reminded me of the alien villains from the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and even the first episode of the Justice League animated show. But I did enjoy the characters and their interactions with each other and the animation is spectacular. If you enjoy the Justice League and you want a well scripted enjoyable ride you should check this out. Plus there are those great speeches at the end of the film by JFK about, ironically, the New Frontier. There are two discs with a couple documentaries and audio commentary with the director and producers and a second one with the creator Darwyn Cooke himself. The second disc has a featurette on Comic Books, a documentary about the Legion of Doom and an homage to the New Frontier and some bonus episodes of the Justice League-- and if you want an extra treat check out the cool website.

Grade: 4 Buckets

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